Employment and completion rates aren't a good way to measure quality of ITE, finds Ofsted

Outcome measures are not an effective indicator of the quality of initial teacher education, because the recruitment landscape means trainees are likely to get a job regardless of the quality of their training, Ofsted research has found.

The education watchdog today released the second phase of its ITE curriculum research, part of an effort to bring inspections of ITE providers closer in line with the education inspection framework, which launched last year.

Ofsted explored the key indicators that determine the effectiveness and quality of ITE programmes.

It found outcome measures, such as employment and completion rates were not an effective indicator as the “current recruitment challenges” meant “trainees are highly likely to be employed as teacher irrespective of the quality of their ITE programme”.

Last year analysis by SchoolDash and the Gatsby Foundation found 1,279 more secondary teacher vacancies were advertised in 2018-19 than the previous year – suggesting a deepening recruitment crisis.

In September, during the first phase of research, the inspectorate revealed it would introduce a new framework for inspecting initial teacher training, with an increased focus on how trainees are taught to manage behaviour.

Based on this research, Oftsed created 22 curriculum indicators across eight domains of interest in which to assess providers.

The domains include: rationale, concepts, accountability and leadership, sustainability, curriculum planning, partnerships equality and assessment.

In total 46 ITE partnerships were visited for two days, including 24 school-centered initial teacher training centres (SCITTs), 20 higher education institutions (HEI) and two Teach First partnerships.

Amanda Spielman, the Ofsted chief inspector, said: “Our research show that the best initial teacher education programmes teach a well-sequenced curriculum and provide strong mentoring.

“As we have done with schools, we want to inspect in a way that looks at the curriculum properly and helps would-be teachers choose the right training course.”

The new research discovered “effective sequencing” of the curriculum across the year was essential in preparing trainees entering the classroom.

Throughout the visits, there were some examples of a desire to cover every aspect of teaching in such a depth it created an imbalance in the curriculum and led to more time being spent on one aspect to the detriment of an “equally important”.

And some weaker performing partnerships attempted to condense the information into “bite-size chunks” to ensure coverage of teachers’ standards.

This method was found to be ineffective, and led to only a “surface-level” understanding of teaching concepts.

The research also found good-quality mentoring, backed up by effective quality assurance and communication within ITE partnerships, is vital to creating and delivering a quality curriculum.

In partnerships which performed well against research indicators, work had been done to improve the teaching skills of mentors as well as trainees.

In higher-scoring partnerships, course leaders and partner providers worked together to deliver a “well-sequenced” curriculum that put the trainee’s development at its core, rather than prioritising the needs of the partner and settings.

Later this month, a consultation will be launched on a draft handbook and the next phase of development for the new ITE framework.

Further piloting and development is planned for the spring term, with the first set of inspections under a new framework anticipated to begin in January 2021.